In our Top 5 Posts from 2007 series, this post is #2! The message is as important and valid today as it was when we first published it in 2007, so we’re pulling it out, dusting it off, and giving it another moment in the sun. Enjoy!
Openness is awesome.
By openness, I mean sharing a lot of information about myself publicly. For instance, blogging openly about aspects of my life that many would consider private. Being out about all those wacky things I have the opportunity to be out about. That sort of thing. Here are the three big reasons I think openness is so awesome.
Being open can help others.
By sharing enough of myself that I feel like a real person to those who read me or know of me, I enter many people’s monkeyspheres. Just by living my life and sharing it openly, I become an example that it’s possible to be X (X = bi | poly | pagan | trans | B | interdependent) and be a real, living, breathing person with feelings and hopes and desires just like you.
And furthermore, that it’s possible to be all these things and live a happy life — a life that’s more like yours than you might expect. And if people do include me in their monkeyspheres, a whole lot of good can come of it. More understanding of what it means to be X, more compassion toward X’s as people rather than objectified freaks, more recognition that there are X’s living in harmony with others in this society, etc, etc, etc. In a word: connection.
Openness makes me invulnerable.
Openness makes me invulnerable to a whole lot of potentially hurtful things — various flavors of fear and shame. Just imagine how you would feel if some of your secret or private things were discovered. Betrayed? Violated? Hurt?
The degree to which one is open is the degree to which one is immune from these sorts of attacks. I don’t need to live in fear of people finding out any of my secrets, because I’ve already shared all of them publicly. And when I dig deep into my motivation for wanting to keep something hidden, it almost always bottoms out in fear or shame. I feel ashamed of being a certain way, I feel fear that others will shame me for being something unacceptable to them, I feel fear that others will think I’m crazy or unhealthy if they know the truth. I’ve made a sacred promise to not let fear rule my life, and shame is just another kind of fear.
So I refuse. I refuse to hide things out of shame or fear.
I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have any reasonable fears that are big enough to compromise on. For instance, if we feared that Dru was vulnerable to being taken away from us, we might compromise. If I feared that I might lose my job, we might compromise. But luckily, we’re not in those situations, so I choose to take full advantage of my opportunities to be open.
I think society’s current concept of privacy is deprecated.
Technology continues to develop, more and more people are trading more and more of their privacy for more and more convenience (e.g. using credit cards instead of cash), and more and more data is becoming more and more trackable. As Kate reminded me, this tide isn’t inexorable; it’s possible to fight against it. But it feels inexorable to me. I think that the way we think of privacy today will be outmoded and old-fashioned in just one generation.
The paradigm shift is already starting. Kids and teenagers today have vastly different concepts of privacy than their parents did. And when those kids become adults, not too long from now, their new attitude toward openness is going to become the norm. It’ll be easy to dig up personal information about almost anyone, and when that becomes the norm, many forms of privacy are going to stop being such a big deal.
People can finally stop being ashamed of huge portions of their lives, because when everyone starts openly sharing those parts of their lives, it becomes okay; it becomes socially acceptable to be all of who you are. I think that’s awesome and beautiful, and I want to be part of that. I want to ride the wave; I don’t want to be left behind as an old fogey clinging to the old paradigm.
I also think that there are scary political concerns — it’s important to make sure that this upcoming lack of privacy can be shared by all (e.g. Little Brother), rather than the powerful spying on the powerless (e.g. wiretapping, subpoenas to access harvested data). But I don’t want to get into that here.
Hooray for openness! (: